How the North West region benefits from North/South Co-operation.
Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) is the main health co-operation body in the region, taking in the border counties of the South’s Health Service Executive and the Southern and Western Health and Social Care Trusts here. The body’s main purpose is to improve the health and well-being of population “with a particular emphasis on the border”.
In February the body established a project to target obesity in the region. Funded through Interreg IVA programme to the tune of £788,000 the aim is to tackle the mounting concern of childhood obesity. Although the project will be directed mainly at children under the age of five, kids who are aged between eight and 11 who are obese or overweight will all be targeted.
Alcohol harm has also been highlighted as a problem in the region, working between the North West Alcohol Forum in Letterkenny and Derry Healthy Cities, a 20-year old organisation designed to “drive forward the health and improvement agenda” in the region.
Sexual health services in the area also have a cross-border tinge. In February, CAWT said that an extra 5,000 GUM patients will be treated over the lifetime of the project. An additional clinic will be provided in Letterkenny to cover the region. The exact services are not yet up and running but are “in the process of development” and will be agreed by the CAWT partners.
Northern Ireland got a break in 2009 when Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan confirmed that £400 million would still be set aside for road projects in the North.
The flagship project, of course, has been the Aughnacloy A5 dual carriageway but it had been expected that some of that money could fund the new A2 road between Maydown and Derry City Airport, just north of Derry City. However agendaNi understands that there will be no funding contribution from the South on this particular scheme.
At a cost of £25 million, the route will become a 6.2km dual-carriageway, forming part of the Northern Key Transport Corridor which connects Derry with Belfast.
The existing ‘corridor’ is a mixture of motorway, dual and single carriageway. The scheme began in April 2009 and is due to finish late this year.
Indeed the airport itself has also received a boost as new routes have been added. The daily Dublin flight has been put back to 7.40am to allow for business customers to use it more readily. Services to Manchester and Edinburgh have also been added.
The Republic’s National Spatial Strategy, which runs from 2002 to 2020, identifies both Derry and Letterkenny as “gateways” to the North West.
The National Development Plan, due to end in 2013, sets the ambitious target of attracting 10 million visitors. The North West Cross-border Group is seen as the lead in supporting economic development in the region.
Fáilte Ireland North West also naturally has a role to play in the region, outlined in the North West Tourism Development Plan, running from 2008 to 2010.
Among the priorities for product development in the region are creating new attractions and programmes to increase visitor spend and dwell time.
Tourism initiative Destination North West II exists to “increase the competitiveness and sustainability” of tourism in the region. However, its £2 million funding is currently pending from Interreg.
That money would be spent on “promoting key products of the region”.